Missouri voters will see three separate ballot measures concerning to medical marijuana Nov. 3.
The three measures are all similar in language, but do contradict each other.The discrepancies include what conditions are qualified for medical marijuana use and how much the tax would be.
The first measure, a constitutional amendment, is called New Approach: Missouri. This amendment would allow marijuana to be prescribed for one of 10 medical conditions.
The marijuana would be taxed at 4 percent and some of the funds would be designated to veterans programs. New Approach: Missouri would also allow patients to grow their own marijuana with a $100 state license.
The second measure, also a constitutional amendment, is called the Bradshaw Amendment which is named after Brad Bradshaw, the attorney who primarily self-funded the measure. This Amendment would form a state research institute as well as create a nine person board led by Bradshaw. The board would then decide what diseases would benefit from medical marijuana. This amendment also has the highest tax rate, at 15 percent. Some of the funds would also go to veterans.
The final measure is legislation, not an amendment. The Patient Care Act creates a framework for physicians to recommend medical marijuana for nine specified conditions, but will also allow a recommendation for any other chronic, debilitating or other medical condition. The Patient Care Act would only have a 2 percent tax rate. Some of the funds would go to veterans’ programs, drug treatment, early childhood education and public safety.
The three ballot measures have different conditions for use of medical marijuana and different tax rates. The conflicting proposals is new to Nodaway County Prosecutor Robert Rice.
“(I have) not (seen something) like this where you have two different propositions that are similar in nature but are also different in what the language says,” Rice said.
Rice believes that this will results in lawsuits being filed.
“I think if one or (more) of them pass there’s going to be lawsuits filed and it’s going to be a little bit before it’s implemented,” Rice said.
Assistant Professor of Political Science Daniel Smith said the presence of all three measures on the same ballot could be an issue.
“I’ll preface this by saying I do not know what happens when you have all three proposals, all of which could pass; there is nothing in these proposals that says if one passes the other doesn’t,” Smith said. “It’s possible that two or more of these pass, and they would set up competing structures and they would set up different levels of taxes.”
Smith also pointed out that constitutional amendments are difficult to change or repeal.
“Two of them are constitutional amendments, you can’t just go in and clean that up with a law,” Smith said. “If the constitutional amendment has requirements in it and it passes, everything in that amendment is part of the Missouri Constitution.”
Smith also said that there is nothing in the Missouri Constitution that dictates what happens if two amendments contradict each other. Smith said the government still has to enforce both laws simultaneously.
“If they are inconsistent with each other the government has a problem because they are required to do both,” Smith said.
Rice also has concerns on how medicine is approved, something he believes is not a political issue.
“A lot of people want to make it a political thing; to me, it’s a humanity thing,” Rice said. “With regards to any medicine… I believe all medicine ought to follow the same procedures. That’s to be approved of, researched and verified for human consumption.”
The entity that approves medicine is the Food and Drug Administration. Rice said that the FDA has not endorsed it yet, which adds to his concerns.
“I believe (the FDA is) the entity that should tell us that a substance is safe and should be used for medicine, not special interests,” Rice said. “I believe you got big marijuana corporations because they have a financial incentive for it to be passed.”
Rice thinks that these ballots are a way to circumvent how medicine is sanctioned for human consumption.
“These ballots are attempting to go around the normal and usual process before a drug can be approved of for sale and for use in our country,” Rice said.
Rice also argued there is a lack of research from a national, nonpartisan entity makes him unsure that it would be safe for consumption.
“All we want to do is make sure that people are taking medicine that’s safe and they are aware of the side effects of it,” Rice said.
It was further argued by Rice that this would not be fair to the patient if they did not know the full effects.
“If a human sits there and is thinking ‘This is going to be better for me’ not knowing what the real consequences are going to be, that’s not fair,” Rice said.
Throughout Rice’s time as a prosecutor, he has seen the effects marijuana can have on people.
“In my world, I just see that substance used to destroy lives,” Rice said. “I see it where people not only destroys their own lives, but hurt others. I see it used as a weapon to intoxicate women in order to take sexual advantage of them. I see it when people get high they then start stealing from others.”
The potential risks of marijuana was not lost on Smith.
Smith also acknowledged that there can be risks in legalizing medical marijuana. Smith pointed out that some medicines already approved have the same risks.
“There is a risk of addiction,” Smith said. “There is a risk of addiction with whole lot of opioids too. That does not mean don’t take the opioids.”
Smith argued that there is sufficient research, as well as test cases in various other states, that show medicinal marijuana is safe.
“It’s relatively noncontroversial about the medical benefits and the limited side effects,” Smith said. “When you look at cancer patients going through chemotherapy and marijuana as a treatment, the research shows: A. It’s effective. B. It’s long-term, potential harmful effects are minimal.”
Whether or not the measures will pass is unclear to Smith. Smith believes that, even though Missouri is a conservative state, it could still be passed.
“Missouri, as a conservative state, has a very strong libertarian ‘leave me alone’ component to it, and the government not telling you what you can do with your own medical treatment is a component to it,” Smith said.